The second $1Million TAB Hunter Race Day was another success story for the Newcastle Jockey Club on Saturday.
Fine weather, a magnificently prepared track together with the top jockeys and horses, all the ingredients for a super Saturday. With crowds restricted during the pandemic, racegoers still provided a great atmosphere.
On the track it was the bonnie Randwick mare Sweet Deal confirming her liking for the Newcastle track with a clear cut victory with Nash Rawiller in the saddle. The six-year-old mare won the 2019 Tibbie Stakes at Newcastle and she has been runner up in her other two starts on the track. The first prizemoney of $580,000 took Sweet Deal’s racetrack earnings to $1.3 million.
With strict instructions from trainer Thompson to ride the mare with cover, Rawiller settled her midfield on the rail. He crept along the rail until the 200 metres when she peeled off the back of the leader Special Reward. Sweet Deal ($10) won by a length from the Kris Lees trained Special Reward ($13) with Godolphin’s Asiago ($9.50) finishing fast for third.
The winner gave Thompson his second success in a $1 Million race this year after Dreamforce won the George Ryder Stakes in the Autumn. Thompson was obviously over the moon. “This mare loves the Newcastle track and so do I. Sweet Deal was very close to heading to stud this spring before the decision was made to give her one more year on the track. There is a lovely mares’ series during the Autumn”.
Lees trained horses, finished second, fourth and fifth. His great supporters Australian Bloodstock race the runner up Special Reward, winner of the Newcastle Newmarket. Lees and Australian Bloodstock have finished second in both The Hunter’s with Tactical Advantage chasing home Savatiano in 2019. “We had no bad luck, they all had their chance” Lees said. “Aaron gave Special Reward the perfect ride. Tactical Advantage ran his usual honest race in finishing fourth. Evalina finished the race well to run fifth,” Lees said.
Australian Bloodstocks Jamie Lovett said “We are getting closer to winning The Hunter. It is a race we would love to win and we will be back next year.”
The race meeting kicked off with the fourth running of the Sage Painting Max Lees Classic for two-year-old’s. In a great finish, James Cummings tiny Godolphin filly Sliders, was too tough scoring by half a length from Wyong filly Snowdrop($10), with Pippa Charlotte ($4.80) a nose away in third. Sliders is a half-sister to Godolphins Group 1 winner Flit. Rachel King, rider of the winner described the Newcastle track as “being like carpet”.
The winner of the Group 3 New Zealand Bloodstock Spring Stakes for three-year-old’s over 1600 metres is expected to be set for the ATC Derby in the Autumn. The Eleanora, bred and raced by John Singleton and named after his popular Central Coast hotel, is a promising stayer. In only his fourth start the colt was perfectly ridden by Tommy Berry. The home straight long duel with runner up High Supremacy was one of the highlights of the day.
New Zealand Bloodstock director Mike Kneebone was on track for the presentation.
Newcastle’s only winner on the nine event program was the ultra-consistent Super, trained by former South Australian trainer Mark Minervini. It was Super’s fourth win in eight starts on the Newcastle track and it was Sydney apprentice Tom Sherry’s second win on the gelding. Purchased for $22,000 Super, has won prizemoney of $152,000 and may run in the $1Million The Gong at Kembla on Saturday.
Minervini moved from Adelaide last year and he has fallen in love with Newcastle.